No trip to Georgia is complete without exploring Kazbegi – the gateway to the Caucasus mountains. The Georgian Military Highway winds through green valleys and foothills before ascending high among the giant peaks of the Caucasus mountains. The jagged peaks are illuminated in hues of greens, greys, and reds with eagles circling above their lofty heights. Kazbegi offers travelers unlimited exploration and beautiful hiking.
Restaurants in Kazbegi
Restaurant quality in Kazbegi is generally lower than in Tbilisi. Mostly catering to tourists, restaurants care little for returning customers. Nonetheless, you can still find a decent Georgian meal in Kazbegi.
You’ll spot Café 5047m as you get out of your claustrophobic marshrutka. With views over the mountains, the terrace is perfect to enjoy a beer or glass of house wine after a hike to Gergeti Trinity Church. Don’t bother eating western food on the menu. The spaghetti carbonara was cut spaghetti with curdled cream cheese sauce. However, the Georgian dishes are tasty, especially the crispy chicken. The staff are friendly but slow, as typical in Georgia. Don’t be surprised to wait.
Rooms Hotel Kazbegi is easily the most stylish restaurant in Kazbegi. The restaurant serves traditional Georgian dishes made with produce from the region. Its panoramic views and alpine architectural class are an experience in itself. Staff are also attentive and friendly. However, expect to pay a premium for this quality. A meal here costs significantly more than at other restaurants in Kazbegi.
Where to stay in Kazbegi
With its exquisite design and class, Rooms Hotel is a cut above other accommodation offers in Kazbegi. The Alpine retreat offers an atmospheric indoors to rival the spectacular backdrop of the Caucasus mountains. Its terrace, lounge area, bedrooms, and casino showcase the best of Georgian design and architecture. Where else can you gaze upon one of the mightiest mountain ranges in the world whilst swimming in the pool?
Kazbegi is teaming with guesthouses. They are typically basic but comfortable, and cheap. Most private double rooms cost 15-50 GEL. Staying in a guest house also gives you insight into Georgian culture and hospitality. Most rooms are a spare room at a local’s house or in one of their outbuildings. Don’t be surprised if you are offered a generous shot of chacha upon your arrival.
Hiking in Kazbegi
The Caucasus Mountains are beautiful every season. In October and November, Dusky layers of rusted brown and charcoal stretch from Georgia into Russia’s unknown. Autumn blankets the foothill slopes in red leaves whilst mountains bare their jagged teeth above. In winter, the wilderness turns white. Georgia is an ever-changing beautiful canvas for wilderness explorers.
Juta and the Chauki Pass
Reaching the top of the Chauki Pass, you forgot your tired jelly legs. Mountains fill the view in every direction, the peak of Mount Kazbek overseeing behind. The hike starts from Juta village, around 45 minutes (50 GEL) taxi ride or hitch from Kazbegi. Green meadows and trickling streams lead gently up towards the seven jagged peaks of the pass. Standing at 3431 meters, the Chauki pass is challenging but the hike is worth it. On a clear day, the views are some of the best in the Kazbegi region. Caucasus trekking has useful information on trekking from Juta to Roshka via the Chauki Pass.
Gergeti Trinity Church
The Gergeti Trinity Church is the postcard-perfect Kazbegi view. Perched 2170 meters high underneath Mount Kazbek, the church overlooks Stepantsminda village. The Gergeti Trinity Church, built in the 14 century, is an easy 1.5- 2 hour hike from Stepantsminda centre. Drivers will also drive you to the top. However, you can enjoy the surrounding nature fully by walking. You can read more information on Gergeti Trinity Church including a map here.
The beautiful hike starts from Stepantsminda and leads you past Gergeti Trinity Church through green hills and mountains with amazing views of Mount Kazbek before finally reaching the Gergeti glacier. The 7-8 hour walk is physically demanding – you will ascend and descend 1600 meters. Make sure you come well prepared. You can hire a guide from Stepantsminda, although the path is well-trodden and you will meet other walkers on-route.
The jagged white and black tooth of Mount Kazbek looms to the West of Stepandtsminda village. Standing at 5,047 meters, it is Georgia’s third highest peak, and the seventh highest mountain in the Caucasus. The mountain lies on the edge of the Borjomi-Kazbegi fault line, within the Kazbegi nature reserve. 135km of its snow-dusted surface is covered with icy glaciers. Indeed, its name in Georgian – Mqinvartsveri – means ‘Glacier Peak’ or ‘Freezing Cold Peak’. Gergeti glacier, the most well known glacier, is reachable within a one-day hike of Stepandtsminda.
Mount Kazbek draws climbers from around the world to its lofty heights. Although physically demanding, the climb is relatively simple and involves only 100 meters of ice climbing to reach the summit. Despite the ease of the route, it is advised to summit with a guide. Those who are willing to take on the mountain are rewarded with breathtaking views of the legendary Caucasus mountains.
When to go hiking in Georgia
The best time to enjoy the nature by foot is June – October. Outside of these times, snow can block your way and nights are cold.
Getting from Tbilisi to Kazbegi
Marshrutka and minivan
You can take a Marshrutka (~10GEL, 2.5 hours) from Didube Bus Station in Tbilisi. Beware that drivers often hurtle down roads at worrying speeds and overtake like madmen. For a more comfortable journey with leg-room, take a minivan for 20 GEL. The journey to Kazbegi is beautiful. The road passes the Zhinvali reservoir and Ananuri fortress before winding high up into the Caucasus mountains. As you pass deeper into the mountains, you will notice an unusal monument – the Soviet-Georgia Friendship memorial – standing stark colourful contrast to the surrounding mountains.
Hitchhiking in Georgia is common and safe. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to hitch a lift along the Georgia-Russia highway. Georgians are very welcoming and it may become a highlight of your trip. However, plan extra time as thumbing to Kazbegi can take a whole day.
- A day trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi is possible. However, plan to spend longer than a day. Bad weather can ruin the spectacular views and many of the most beautiful places are not reachable in a day.
- Stop off at the town Arsha on the way to try some of the best khinkali in Georgia.
- You can enjoy the terrace, pool and ambiance of Rooms Hotel without forking out $200 for a room. Stay in a cheaper guesthouse and visit Rooms for a coffee or breakfast.
- Download Komoot or Maps.me apps to find walking routes and help you navigate your hike.